Father Gregory Mullaney

The Rev. Gregory Mullaney has been a priest at St. Thomas Aquinas Church on the University of Connecticut’s campus for about three years but has been a priest for 21 years.  After the translation change on November 27, 2011 Mullaney got little feedback from the public on whether or not they like it, only one woman said she liked the change.

“I hope people will give the new translation a change and not judge it by one or two masses, because change is hard and the older we get the more difficult change is for us, but I would hope people will have an open mind and just be patient with themselves, with the church and with the new translation and kind of grow into it over time and not jump to conclusions and say I don’t want to come to mass anymore because mass is different and the words are different”.

In 1969 the Vatican issued a set of translation guidelines called Dynamic Equivalence and according to that concept you don’t have to translate word for word, you can sum up the gist of the thought and if an adverb is dropped or an adjective is added it’s OK said Mullaney.

Photo credit: Emily Croll

The basic structure of mass is remaining the same but the translation has changed and the reason for that is because the liturgical books of the catholic church are in Latin, said Mullaney.  People all over the world then need to translate it into their own language because no one still speaks Latin.

Q: What’s a major change to the translation?

He said in the old translation many of the prayers sounded like, “God,…” or “Father, give us resolve to carry out your will regardless of the cost, we ask this through Christ our Lord” so “God, give us…” is an imperative like commanding God, “God give us” or “God help us” but in the new one it’s implying the principle of supplication.  The new translation is more respectful said Mullaney.

“A lot of people see Jesus as our brother, which is true but he’s also our Lord and God, how do you factor it all in so it’s not one or the other but both? You don’t want people to have impressions that God is above us,” said Mullaney.

Q: How has it been transitioning for you and the public?

Most of the changes involves the priest said Mullaney, the church deliberately try to refrain from forcing people to adopt to many changes.  Mullaney thinks priests will have a longer time getting used to the words then the people.  He predicts it will take about a year to get everyone onboard and comfortable saying the responses and prayers.

Q: Why change why not leave translation be?

The reason why the translation is following Latin is because in the early church during the Roman Empire, different languages were spoken in different places, said Mullaney.  The first Christians in Rome spoke Greek, which lasted several 100 years in the church, even Latin widely spoken.  But a lot of slaves in Rome that were converted spoke Greek and after 100’s years,in the second and third century the transition moved to Latin because most of the people coming to the church were Latin speaking Christians, which was a living language at the time said Mullaney.

As the middle ages grew and the Roman Empire was winding down the language of people diverged from the official spoken Latin and formed the early Italian and old form of French, Spanish and Portuguese said Mullaney.  But since the church has traditional nature, as local languages evolved the church retained Latin because that’s what it had been doing for 100’s years but also because it was a cultural thing said Mullaney.

The culture supported the retention of Latin but Protestants said if we’re praying to God you should pray in our own words not a foreign language, the church rejected this proposition and Latin came to characterize Catholic culture so protestants went into all vernacular said Mullaney.  They started to preach in their own languages and Catholics kept the Latin translation until the early 60’s when Vatican II gave permission for the mass and other sacraments to be celebrated in the language of the people said Mullaney.

The translation was put together by people from the Americas, England, Ireland, Canada, India, South Africa, and Australia said Mullaney.  The translation will affect wherever English is used.  Mullaney said some parts of the world are waiting to start the new translation like the Philippines, who aren’t starting the new translations for another year.  Mullaney recently spoke with someone coming back from India and they said the Archdiocese of Mumbai has introduced the change but the Archdiocese of New Deli have not.  In India it seems it depends on the Archdiocese, said Mullaney, but it’s definitely being used in the U.S., Canada, U.K and Ireland but he’s not sure about Australia, New Zealand or the south pacific countries.

Mullaney said the cost of the change at St. Aquinas Church was about $600.  The church spent $500 on the new Roman Missals, getting three copies, one for Mullaney, one for Father John, the other priest in the church and one smaller one for when Father John goes to the nursing home.  Then about $100 was spent on teaching aids for the public like pew cards.

Q: Which do you prefer? The new or old translation?


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